A GEARVR NEWS ARTICLE
Darknet is an amazing game that I fell in love with a long time ago but, due to the time restrictions of being a game reviewer who needs to constantly be writing new articles, my interest in the game suffered as a result of the pressure to keep growing my blog. In a different universe where I was still just playing games instead of reviewing them all the time, I would have never left Darknet behind. My first two days were spotted with games that left a deep impression on me. Years from now, when I think of GearVR, it will probably be this game that comes to mind more than any other. Because it exemplifies what my idea of cyberspace looks like with its Tron-esque glowy lines and rich dark ambiance.
So it was amazing that just this past week, I saw that Darknet had an update which had been there for some time now and I hadn’t noticed before. I updated it and quickly jumped in expecting not to notice any differences, because the author E McNeil only listed the most important changes in the actual update information in the Oculus Home Store. He failed to describe the wonderful embellishments he’d made, which elevate this game’s mood so much higher than it was before. From his announcement speech, I was thinking there wasn’t going to be anything to see from the start because he suggested the biggest changes were quite a ways into the game, to give hardcore players new challenges as the game progressed.
So let me be clear that my jaw hit the floor upon entering Darknet and seeing the improved graphics, the improved front-load animation, texturing, and later the smoother gameplay. There were layers upon layers of new things to experience, so much so that I knew I had to give Darknet it’s due this time around. I decided enough was enough; this time, I would spend the whole day in Darknet. And what a fun fun day I just had!
The first thing I noticed was a new texture on the tunneling protocol entry point of this game. Before, it was just this big hole in the existential blackness with rings you flew in through, but now the entire thing is layered with motherboard circuitry that is so much more beautiful due to the scale and stereo depth being at just the right size to provide Presence on a whole new level. The entry-animation sequence just feels so much smoother and nicer, the background has a new feeling of depth and proximity and isn’t just inky blackness with no dimension to it. It feels more real after this minor cosmetic change. The circuit-board design just makes so much more sense now, like you’re entering a computer mainframe at the sub-atomic level. I am so thankful for these little touches, they truly repackage this game and offer it as almost a whole new product.
The next change I noticed was that upon selecting the “Cloud” for your 2nd attack on cyberspace (after the starting instructional level), the developer added an incredible new animation sequence that changes the entire feel of the game. Now you leave your access node behind far below you as you spring up into an actual “cloud” stratosphere and see the glowing-access orbs much more beautifully rendered. More dreamily so. Everything is so much nicer to look at and experience. The look-gaze implementation of each Mission Sphere is much better designed, too. You look at each mission on a tray as if it’s on a plate that, like food, is being displayed right before your nose ready for you to dive right in. Look right or left, the next mission zooms in. You select a mission and the network opens before you and you fly through the rings as the screen fades to black. It’s all so slick and polished that playing the game is even more fun than before.
The update came with a long story posted on Reddit by the author explaining the critical need for this update, and what had happened a long time ago to cause such a dramatic situation. It turns out the author failed to cryptographically sign his own apk before release, and so when it was time to update this app, he had to add this patch in as an entirely new app! Which meant all previous user information was lost. Kind of makes the case that save-game information should be savable to SD-Card outside of Oculus Home, but I guess that’s best saved for another article.
People who had played this game, not for mere days, but months, had lost all their save-game data if they decided to upgrade. But with an update this good, how could you not? But as I said, I hadn’t played it much, only about 500 Bitcoins worth. And back then, I had a one-track mind and didn’t even bother to read the boards to figure out if I could even spend those in-game fictional Bitcoins on anything in the game world. And yes, it turns out that I could have. Because there are actual in-game upgrades you can purchase with your Bitcoins hard won from the levels you’ve beaten. Something I didn’t know before. But thankfully, the developer apologized by providing a cheat code for 1000 Bitcoins (shown in the photo below), which was almost double what I’d earned myself in the first few days I played it. And I was all over that! Having the cash all at once, for free, it caused me to try and find out what they were even for, and lo and behold, actual upgrades right there in the menu system… all this time!
I’d earned 500 already but never spent any of them, so this minor cheat was just enough incentive for me to leapfrog one full day ahead of my old save game … for free! I was in Heaven, because I got a chance to make the game a bit easier … at least for a little while. With that 1000 Bitcoins, I was able to buy 4 upgrades, two of which added additional in-game purchase money at every new game’s start (for use during hacks only). This starting money allows you to buy a few more viruses (lasers) and a few more Trojans which help you gain a faster foothold on an inflow of cash needed to grow yourself even faster. This means you can reach the “Core” of each level a few minutes earlier, thereby ensuring a win that you would have really had to fight for to get before.
The cheat money helped out for about 8 games, but after that, the difficulty setting ramped up again, and now the challenge is back as if I’d never had the starting money to begin with. And it’s a long long way until any new Bitcoin purchases will be available to me at this point. I need 2000 Bitcoins before I can see the next upgrade that holds any interest for me, something about the ability to see behind the data stream to suss out what’s going on in Networks on a whole new level. Oh yeah! I’m down for that one, but it’s going to take me at least a few more days in Darknet before I can hope to unlock that surprise. I hope it’s worth it. But yeah, from what I’ve seen so far of this amazing title, one that only just keeps getting better, I’m pretty certain it will be quite worth it.
If you haven’t played Darknet before, and you like action-packed puzzle games, this is one game you really shouldn’t overlook. It shows what VR really looks like to cyberspace fans, and has incredible stereoscopic depth throughout. In addition, due to the game’s ingenious rotational system, you can play this one even while you’re relaxing … on the can (wink). There’s never a reason to waste time doing your business, when you could be in cyberspace at the same time, having a blast. (oops, I think that came out all wrong … Um… oh god, I just did it again, didn’t I?)
NOTICE: This article may be updated with cool new graphics from the developer in the coming days, so check back again in a few to find out!